Fisheries Massacring Sea Turtles, Near-Term Extinction

*Sea turtles have swum the seas for a couple hundred million years. Today all seven species are in dire shape, especially in Mexico and Australia.

According to University of British Columbia’s renowned fisheries biologist, Professor Daniel Pauley, “between 10 and 100 trillion oceanic creatures a year are being destroyed by man.” Incomprehensible.

Shark caught in fishing net. [Extinction of Sea Turtles]
55 million sharks are indiscriminately caught by fisheries, another 45 million are poached — 100 million sharks are looted each year from our oceans. Photo credit: Smithsonian

Fisheries are annihilating everything in the seas. There are 13 million miles of longlines, or, enough line for 27 return trips to the moon, with almost 2 billion legal and illegal hooks. In 2000 alone, University of Duke scientists reported that longlines mutilated 200,000 loggerhead and 50,000 leatherback sea turtles. Horrendous.

It’s not just these deadly hooked lines that are the culprits. The conservation group World Animal Protection estimates that each year fisheries disdainfully discard and/or abandon 640,000 metric tons of nets, which become ghost nets. Not only do these ghastly entanglements suffocate 308,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), but also many thousands of sea turtles.

Mexican Government recording dead sea turtles
Mexican government workers recording dead sea turtles, Santa Maria Colotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo credit: Fredy Garcia/Reuters

Over the past month, more than 400 sea turtles have turned up in two deadly waves along the southwest shores of Mexico.

313 dead olive ridley sea turtles
313 floating decomposing olive ridley sea turtles, suffocated in a ghost net, August 28, 2018, state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo credit: Fredy Garcia/Reuters

Hundreds of endangered sea turtles found dead near southern Mexico.”

Earlier this week, more than 300 endangered olive ridley sea turtles were discovered trapped and decomposed in a massive illegal 393-foot long net off the shores of the state of Oaxaca, southern Mexico. It’s heartbreaking to see these masterpieces floating lifelessly because rapacious entitled humans are destroying everything in the sea with impunity.

A wave of dead sea turtles
A wave of dead sea turtles strewn along the shores of the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Photo credit: Paul Walters/SWNS

In late July (2018), 113 masterpieces (102 olive ridley, 6 hawksbill, 5 greens) washed ashore at Puerto Arista, Chiapas, neighbouring southerly state of Oaxaca. Asphyxiation, fishing hooks and harmful algal blooms laced with deadly saxitoxin and domoic acid from above normal sea surface temperatures, all appear to have collided. My colleagues are currently undertaking the necropsies.

Sea Turtles caught in ghost nets
Football-sized ghost nets are wiping out all sea turtles in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Photo credit: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Meanwhile across the Pacific in the southern hemisphere, far north Queensland, Cape York region, Australia, thousands of drowned sea turtles continue to pile up in discarded subsidized petroleum-based fisheries’ nets.

Over the previous 10 years at least 10,000 paddling masterpieces have been demolished by ghost nets.

Sea Turtles dead in ghost net
A slow agonizing death by ghost nets is a common occurrence in far north Queensland, Australia. Photo credit: The Blue Film

We are in the midst of the accelerating Sixth Mass Extinction. It’s occurring by as much as 10,000 times faster than the previous five others.

On top of all the fisheries mayhem, petroleum-based plastics are killing a million marine creatures annually.

Already, 70 percent of sea birds have vanished. More than 60 percent of the remaining feathered beauties are full of plastics. “Often a bird will be killed by its parents, which has accidentally brought plastic items to their chicks, mistaking them for food,” said Dr Jennifer Lavers, University of Tasmania.

What we do to the oceans and all sea life, we do to ourselves. An immediate global campaign to remove ghost nets is obligatory.

In order for marine life to heal, it’s time to end fisheries for 50 years.

All life is now facing near-term extinction. Ladies and gentlemen, we must not go quietly into this hideous impoverished future!


Sea Shepherd


Please support the excellent work of the direct-action conservation movement Sea Shepherd because they are removing ghost nets and protecting the sea turtles, the sharks and the cetaceans.



Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Love! Nature

Tweet @RelentlessReese


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